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The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (Austin Family Chronicles #2.5)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
To seven-year-old Vicky Austin, the twenty-four days before Christmas are the most wonderful days of the year. She's going to be an angel in the Christmas Pageant. Best of all, Vicky and her brother John and her little sister Suzy do something special every day to celebrate: they hang twinkling lights, make cookies, and wish very hard for snow.But what if the new baby come ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 7th 2000 by Shaw (first published 1984)
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I didn't expect to enjoy this book so much, we liked this one more than Meet the Austins. It's a short read following Vicky Austin preparing for her Christmas play and the birth of a sibling which is threatening to take their mother away from them for Christmas. We enjoyed the detail of everday doing something special for Christmas, something we have always done in our house for Christmas. We loved the details of the nativity scene which was called a 'creche' which to us only meant pre-school da ...more
Rebekah Morris
This is my favorite of favorite Christmas stories. I have read it or heard it read each Christmas for as long as I can remember. There is just something special in the sweet simplicity of 7-year-old Vickie Austin telling the story of her special Christmas. Her worries about the Christmas pageant where she has been chosen to be the angel of the Lord, about the possibility of her mother being in the hospital over Christmas, and if there will be any snow, just builds you for the wonderful ending th ...more
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book would land in the three-and-a-half to four-star range for me.
The power of this book is belied by its brevity. Madeleine L'Engle lovingly paints the life of the well-known Austin family as the days go by on the way to Christmas. Vicky Austin's imminent role as an angel in the church's Christmas pageant is the centerpiece to the story, as she tries her best to overcome the clumsiness that seems so natural to her. At the same time, the Austin's await the advent of their soon-to-be-born n
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathryn by: Lisa Vegan
A cozy, heartwarming and thoughtful first story in the Austin family series by Madeline L'Engle centering around the family's preparations for Christmas. The focus is on middle child Vicky, who is the youngest ever to be chosen to play the Angel in the Christmas Pageant. She is so thrilled and practicing for the role helps her overcome her awkwardness and lack of self-confidence. And she is excited about the new baby on the way. But when she realizes that the baby might just come over Christmas ...more
Rebekah Morris
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had to pick just one Christmas book to read in December, this would be it. I've read it or listened to my mom read it to me every Christmas for as long as I can remember. There is just something sweet, heart-tugging, and satisfying about this story told from 7-year-old Vicki Austin's perspective. Oh, now I can't wait 'til December when I can read it again.
And yes, I can quote many things from it.

"Three snowflakes fell. Exactly three. I counted them." :)
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We've started a new tradition of reading Christmas books through December. I had never read this one before but it was lovely - religious without being evangelical, sweet without being overly sentimental It will definitely become part of our Advent tradition.
Alice Lippart
This was a short and sweet festive story.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Every year, the Austins count down to Christmas with an Advent calendar and daily surprises. This year, the Christmas season is especially exciting because seven-year-old Vicky will play the angel in the Christmas pageant, and Mrs. Austin is expecting a baby (Rob) right around the holidays. There is only one problem - what if the baby comes early and Mrs. Austin has to be in the hospital for Christmas? Vicky can’t bear the thought, and wonder
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christmas lovers
Recommended to Relyn by: spotted on the library website
I haven't read the other Austin books, and only read this one because it was a tiny Christmas book. I needed a little light, get-excited-about-Christmas reading. This was great for that. In fact, it changed our Christmas. The Austin family does something special every day from December 1 to December 24. These aren't giant things, just fun seasonal activities. One day they hang mistletoe. Another they bake Christmas cookies. Another they make a seasonal mobile. The family calls it their "Special ...more
Laura (Book Scrounger)
This book was chosen for Day 1 of my "25 Days of Christmas Books" blog series. It's a sweet holiday story about a family preparing for Christmas, focusing on Vicky Austin's anxiety about the Christmas play she's in, as well as her new sibling who will be arriving soon and may put her mother in the hospital over Christmas.

Full review here:
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite part of the story is the mother has the children do something special every single day to prepare for the twenty-fifth day. What a delightful idea. Mother is also expecting a baby right about Christmas time and so is the Christmas pageant at the church. A sweet story.
Margaret Dee
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A family book to be read throughout the month of December. Great gift
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
Seven-year old Vickie is a little worried about Christmas this year. Will her pregnant mother be home for the holiday or in the hospital, having the baby? Vickie also has to prepare for a special role in the Christmas pageant. Every day, the family does something to prepare for Christmas, waiting and hoping. I thought I’d read all the Austin family books when I was a preteen/teen so I was happy to discover this pleasant book aimed at younger readers
Juergen John Roscher
I try to read several Christmas books each yuletide season and this one appealed to me since it was a book about the joys of the Christmas season from the perspective of the children in the Austin family.

The Austin family celebrate the Christmas season by doing one special thing each night of Advent from making cookies, to setting up the nativity scene, to decorating their home. This year is special because Mrs. Austin is pregnant with the fourth child in the family and everyone is worried that
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This sweet little book is lovely. I read it in a few short minutes today and was both encouraged and inspired by it. When I read that the book was about a family's tradition of doing one special thing each day of December leading up to Christmas, I expected to read the book and think, "That sounds great, but I could never do that." Because when I think of creating a calendar of that sort, it sounds overwhelming. But the Austin family's approach to Christmas was not at all overwhelming.

7 year old
Dec 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Okay, so I love Madeleine L'Engle. Growing up, A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book, and I still own it plus the rest of that series. But,I can't see how any kid would actually like The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas. Even though it's such a quick read, and I thought the traditions were interesting, and I freaking love Christmas, I still almost didn't finish it. I mean, come on, it's 71 pages and I almost gave up? Yeah, obviously I really did not enjoy it.

I read it immediately after The Bes
Tina at Mommynificent
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I consider myself a huge Madeleine L’Engle fan, so you can imagine my surprise when I found a Christmas book by her this week that I’d never heard of before! I completely thought I had read the entire Vicky Austin series, and I thought it was a series most appropriate for kids around age 12 and up, but apparently I know nothing, because I found this absolutely adorable cross between a picture book and a chapter book about a 7-year old Vicky and her family the year baby Rob is born. I read it alo ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a nice story to read at Christmastime. It is a good way to remember the true meaning of Christmas, beyond the commercial and materialistic shopping frenzy it has become.

We liked the idea of celebrating the twenty-four days of December before Christmas in a special and unique way, kind of a living Advent. We haven't read many books by Madeleine L'Engle yet, but I will be sure to look for some at our local library.

We'd like to read more of books in The Austin Family series. I discovered
I read this for the first time in library school and remember being underwhelmed--I liked the story, but some of the telling seemed awkward. This time around, I liked it much better, partly because I seemed to remember some details differently. I vividly remember it being in told in something like third-person, present-tense, whereas when I reread it, it definitely is told in first person from Vicky Austin's voice.

In any case, I thought this was a sweet, short story that would be enjoyed by tho
Dec 22, 2008 rated it liked it
One of the books in my Christmas box, so I read it every year. Like a number of L'Engle's books, it is charming but flawed--mainly in that Vicky's voice is that of an adult, or at least the teenaged Vicky, not a seven-year-old. Nevertheless, it's always nice to read about the Austins (even though they're even more idyllic than usual in this short book). Every year I find myself thinking about having one special thing for each day leading up to Christmas, and this year it occurred to me that Mrs. ...more
3.5 stars

What an endearing read. I somehow missed branching out from The Wrinkle in Time series when I was a child. This book was my first exposure to the Austin family, though I do have one other book about them checked out from the library.

There is a bit too much selfish whining about a baby being born before Christmas, but it's probably a very accurate attitude for a seven year old. I would be upset if my mom might not be able to come to my play for my first speaking part! That said, it's a
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I think my expectations were a bit too high for this book because a) I've heard a lot of people rave about it and b) I love everything else I've ever read by Madeleine L'Engle. In truth, though, what really ruined this generally sweet story for me more than anything else was reading it aloud to my kids, who absolutely hated it. I think some of that was a function of their ages -- one was too young at 4 and the others were too old. I'm thinking that kids between 6 and 10 would be the best audienc ...more
Christine Locke
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
L'Engle's talent for evoking cozy, loving family life shines in this novella set at Christmastime. L'Engle knits together an appreciation for holiday generosity, a sweet depiction of holiday tradition, and the gentle joy of welcoming a new soul into the world.
This is a wonderful book to share with your children at the holidays. For my own part, it brought back sweet memories of the birth of my own fourth child, who was born at Christmastime.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a sweet addition to the Austin Family series. It's a short story, not a full length novel, and it's really a prequel to the series. It's from another era, and the family is a bit too perfect in this one, but sometimes it's nice to read about functional people and aspire to that. Their tradition of doing something special every day of Advent is cool, but overly optimistic for me. I might try to move in that direction, though.
Ben Fleck
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
The 24 days before Christmas: Or, Older Kids are Jealous of Babies

As the youngest child in my family, I can't really relate to the worry my older siblings faced when I entered the world and stole all the attention from our parents. Still doing it to this day. Youngest kids 4 life!!

As for the story, it is #basic and boring and tries to be heartwarming, but is mainly just a slog. Oh, and clearly for children. So, whoops!
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a cute little book, that would make a nice edition to a Christmas book collection, to be taken out and read each December. But I don't understand why it is book #3 in the Austen family series? It's chronologically #1. Is the numbering for the Austen series based on publications? I don't understand.

Either way. I'm glad to be reading through the Austen series, and am looking forward to The Young Unicorns next.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet little book that would be loved by anyone who loves the Austin Family. Seven year old Vickie is very anxious that the new baby might be born early and cause her mother to be away from home for Christmas. She's tempted to bargain with God and offer to give up being the Christmas angel in the church pageant if only mother doesn't have to miss Christmas. But the only thing you can give God is yourself. Anything else is a bribe. I just love those Austins.
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this wonderful children's Christmas story for people of all ages. Seven year old Vicky is eagerly anticipating Christmas. Every day of December her family does one small thing to prepare for Christmas; such as setting up the creche, or gathering evergreen boughs. She is practicing to be an angel in the Christmas pageant. She's worried that her Mom will be in the hospital for Christmas having the new baby. It's a beautiful story with a heartwarming ending.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This sweet short story (only 48 pages) with beautiful spot illustrations may hold more appeal for the adults who grew up with Vicky Austin and her family than for most of today's kids, but it will find an audience with middle graders looking for a nostalgic glimpse into one family's Christmas traditions.
Dec 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, holiday
This is the first Austin Family story I've read and it was OK. My main problem was that the voice of the seven year old narrator was more the voice of a teenager or adult. This would have been acceptable if it was a memoir - but everything was taking place in the present tense. Having said that, it was a kind of a sweet story about getting ready for Christmas.
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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her young adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener ...more
More about Madeleine L'Engle

Other books in the series

Austin Family Chronicles (5 books)
  • Meet the Austins
  • The Moon by Night (Austin Family, #2)
  • The Young Unicorns (Austin Family, #3)
  • A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #4)
  • Troubling a Star (Austin Family, #5)

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